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Rumor Roundup: Duchene speculation heats up amidst talk he could skip training camp

After Matt Duchene missed a pre-training camp skate, rumors about moving him along began to heat up. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs could consider moving James van Riemsdyk as he enters a contract year.

With NHL training camps opening soon, the status of Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene continues to dominate the rumor mill. 

TSN's Frank Seravalli reports Duchene's absence during a recent voluntary pre-training camp practice prompted speculation the 26-year-old center might skip training camp in hopes of forcing a trade. Pat Brisson, Duchene's agent, would only say that his client is currently skating in Toronto. 

Seravalli notes the Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames were all linked to Duchene at some point in this summer's trade chatter. The New York Islanders could also be added to that list. During the 2017 NHL Draft, they reportedly offered up defenseman Travis Hamonic and a first-round pick to the Avs in a failed attempt to acquire the center. Hamonic was eventually shipped to the Flames. 

On Wednesday, Seravalli's colleague Darren Dreger told Winnipeg's TSN 1290 he believes a Duchene trade will happen, though it remains to be seen when it takes place. He thinks the Predators, Canadiens and Blue Jackets could be among the suitors. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, meanwhile, believes the Jackets could be revisiting their earlier attempt to land Duchene.

Several factors have so far hampered the Avs efforts to move Duchene. General manager Joe Sakic maintains a high asking price, which Dreger said includes a young, established top-four defenseman. Duchene's poor production last season (46 points), his $6-million annual salary and his eligibility for unrestricted free agency in 2019 are also sticking points for interested parties. 

As of Friday, there's no indication from the Duchene camp that he won't report for training camp. If he does, it will increase tensions with Avs management and place additional pressure upon Sakic to find a suitable trade deal before the season begins next month. 

VAN RIEMSDYK’S PENDING FREE AGENCY COULD PROMPT TRADE

Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk is entering the final season of his six-year, $25-million contract. His eligibility next summer for unrestricted free agency could make him a frequent topic of media trade chatter through 2017-18. 

Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star reports van Riemsdyk is said to be seeking around $6-million annually on his next deal. That's a considerable raise over his current annual salary-cap hit of $4.25 million.

Entering this season, the Leafs biggest roster weakness is their blueline depth. To address this, McGran suggests the 27-year-old van Riemsdyk could be their best trade chip if unable to re-sign him before next summer. 

Coming off a 29-goal, 62-point performance last season, van Riemsdyk's value in this season's trade market will surely increase if he matches or exceeds those totals. His free-agent stock next summer will also rise, perhaps attracting offers up to $7 million per season from rival clubs. 

While Leafs management could attempt to re-sign van Riemsdyk, they must ensure they leave themselves sufficient cap room to re-sign their promising young stars. Another strong season from Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander will guarantee big raises for the trio, potentially hampering the club's negotiations with van Riemsdyk. 

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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